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Photographs by Richard Misrach & Kate Orff.
Aperture, 2012. 240 pp., 150 color illustrations, 13½
Selected as one of the
Best Books of 2012
Petrochemical America offers an in-depth analysis of the causes of sustained environmental abuse along the largest river system in North America. It combines Richard Misrach’s haunting photographs of Louisiana’s “Chemical Corridor” with landscape architect Kate Orff’s “Ecological Atlas”-a series of speculative drawings developed through intensive research and mapping of data from the region. Misrach and Orff’s joint effort depicts and unpacks the complex cultural, physical and economic ecologies of a particular region along 150 miles of the Mississippi River, from Baton Rouge to New Orleans-an area of intense chemical production that became known as “Cancer Alley” when unusually high occurrences of the disease were discovered in the region. This revelatory collaboration has resulted in a complex document and an extensively researched guidebook to the ways in which the petrochemical industry has permeated every facet of contemporary life. However complicated by the region’s own histories and particularities, “Cancer Alley” may well be an apt metaphor for the global impact of petrochemicals on the human landscape as a whole.
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